As art teachers, our job assignments differ greatly among buildings and districts. Some teachers stay in one building their entire career while others travel to multiple buildings per week. Assignments can vary in supply inventory, management strategies, and building culture. I’ve traveled each year I’ve been teaching. The following tips have been essential for helping me stay organized and prepared!
Here are 8 things to do to stay sane as a traveling teacher.
1. Invest in binders.
Try keeping a separate binder at each of your schools with important information. In mine, I put seating charts, class lists, emergency info, and my daily schedule.
Then, I have another binder I carry with me every day from building to building. It contains rosters for grading and a behavior log. Keeping this essential information organized helps me to locate information quickly and efficiently.
2. Develop routines that are easy to remember.
If you share a space with another teacher, consider developing routines together. The consistency will be good for your students and the space.
If you don’t share, try as hard as you can to create similar routines at each of your teaching assignments so you can remember them easily. Think about how you can create consistent routines for things like getting students’ attention, gathering supplies, and cleaning up.
3. Make duplicate visuals.
Visuals are fantastic teaching tools. Having the same visuals at each school will help you maintain consistent routines. For example, I use table helpers at each of my buildings. I have the same posters and job descriptions for each school to help keep things simple. I also keep a copy of my A-R-T sign, which I use for volume control, at each school.
4. Carve out a space of your own.
Find a space at each of your schools you can call your own. Even a single drawer or shelf can be helpful! Store things like an extra apron, a photo of your family, and a treat. This way, you’ll always have at least a little space that feels homey.
5. Label, label, label!
Having multiple supply inventories to keep track of can quickly become a nightmare. Labeling as much as you can, will help you find and keep track of things. Label supply containers, cupboard doors, flat files… everything!
6. Find a large tote or bag.
Not only will you be moving from building to building, but you’ll be bringing a lot of stuff along. Invest in a large tote bag that’s comfortable to carry to help you haul materials. Each Friday, make a list of everything you’ll need for the following week and stick it in your bag so you won’t forget what to pack!
7. Store your plans digitally.
Google Drive and Dropbox are fantastic ways to store all your digital files and can be accessed from any device. This way, you’re sure to have your plans wherever you are. If you like paper/pencil plans, make sure to keep them with you as you travel from building to building.
8. Make connections.
It’s good to make connections with other teachers, regardless of the duration of time you’re at another building. Through these acquaintances, you can find out important information and building updates. You can also foster a sense of belonging while networking within your district.
Traveling can be difficult, but you can make it easier on yourself if you create simple, consistent, and efficient systems. Try to stay as organized as possible so you can feel prepared, especially if you’re crunched for time. Aim for consistency and adapt as necessary. For even more tips, check out this great interview from our archives.
How do you stay organized as a traveling art teacher?
What is your best tip for traveling to another building?
Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.